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California Vehicle Code 23572

DUI with a Child under the age of 14

California Vehicle Code §23572 VC imposes a stiffer penalty in cases when you drive while intoxicated with a child under the age of 14. For a first Driver Under the Influence (DUI) violation, a mandatory 48-hour jail sentence is included. For a fourth DUI arrest in California, the increased DUI sentence can be as severe as an additional 90 days in jail.

In the event that you are charged with violation of Vehicle Code §23572, you can make use of various legal defenses to counter the accusations against you. These legal defenses may include: demonstrating that you were not driving under the influence at the time when you were arrested; claiming that you were not in the company of a minor under 14 years old at the time you were driving; or being arrested by the police officers without a probable cause.


Penalties imposed for violation of VC §23572 shall be in addition to any other penalties described and depend upon the number of times you have been convicted of the offense [VC §23572]. To summarize, the penalties are as follows:

Additional penalty for violation of VC §23572

First DUI offense

penalty under §23536

Plus 48 hours in county jail

Second DUI offense

penalty under §23540

Plus 10 days in jail

Third DUI offense

penalty under §23550

Plus 30 days in jail

Fourth DUI offense

penalty under §23550

Plus 90 days in jail

Consequences of DUI with a Child in the Car in California

Being found of driving under the influence with a child as a passenger, or any person under the age of 14, will result in VC §23572 charges, a misdemeanor. As a consequence, enhanced penalties will be applied regardless of your intention, or the lack of it, to harm the child, your blood alcohol concentration level at the time of driving, and your manner of driving.

Common Legal Defenses against VC§23572 charges

Enhanced penalties for VC §23572 violations should not be taken lightly as they entail imprisonment in county jail. Thus, defending yourself from this criminal charge is imperative. There are three common legal defenses for violation of VC §23572, namely:

1. Demonstrating that you were not actually guilty of DUI;

2. Claiming that you were not driving with a child as a passenger; and

3. Being commanded by the police officers to stop without probable cause.

a. You were not guilty of DUI

VC §23572 provides for a sentence enhancement and can only be charged if you have committed a violation involving driving under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, prosecution of VC §23572 essentially requires proof and conviction of a DUI charge. If DUI charges are dropped or not proven in court, sentence enhancement under VC §23572 will not apply. Another way of avoiding VC §23572 sentence enhancement is entering into a plea bargain for a lower offense, such as wet reckless.

b. You were not driving with a child as a passenger

VC §23572 specifically punishes driving with a child while intoxicated because of the danger that this situation poses. The child referred to in this statute pertains to a child under the age of 14. Therefore, it becomes a valid defense if you show proof that your passenger is no longer a child, i.e., that a child is older than 14 years old at the time of the arrest.

c. No probable cause to stop a vehicle

Before they can lawfully make a traffic stop or arrest a suspect, law enforcement officers must have a certain level of justification. This is mandated by no less than the Constitution, specifically in the Fourth Amendment. In the context of DUI, the police officer must show specific facts, constituting probable cause, that led him to the stop/arrest of the motorist to justify the validity of his action. If no legal justification is shown, the arrest is invalid which may lead to the exclusion of evidence; thereby weakening the prosecution’s case against you.

Offenses Related to VC §23572

Offenses imposing additional enhancements are not only found in VC §23572. There are other penal statutes that similarly provide additional penalties for different cases. These are:

1. Vehicle Code §23582, excessive speed and reckless driving;

2. Vehicle Code §23578, excessive Blood Alcohol Concentration Level or refusal to take a chemical test; and

3. Penal Code §273(a), child endangerment.

1. Vehicle Code §23582, excessive speed and reckless driving

Vehicle Code §23582 imposes an additional penalty when a person is found driving with excessive speed and driving recklessly. In DUI sentence enhancement under this code, the prosecutor is required to prove all the essential elements of the crime, namely: (1) that the driver drove under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances; (2) that the driver drove at an excessive speed while committing the DUI violation; and (3) that the driver drove in a reckless manner while driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances.

2. Vehicle Code §23578, excessive Blood Alcohol Concentration Level or refusal to take chemical test

Taking chemical tests, whether breath test or blood test, is mandatory after the police officer has determined that driving is impaired by reason of alcohol. The mandatory nature of this test precludes the driver from refusing to take it, such that his refusal could lead to serious consequences. The same thing is true if the driver’s BAC is found to be 0.015 or higher. Consequences often consist of:

  1. A minimum one-year suspension of one's driving privileges;
  2. If the motorist is finally found guilty of DUI, they must serve an additional 48 hours in jail [Vehicle Code §23612(a)(1)(D)].

3. Penal Code § 273a(a), Child Endangerment

Penal Code §273a(a) makes it a crime for a person to willfully expose a child under 18 years old to unjustifiable pain, suffering, or danger. One of the most common examples that lead to child endangerment is driving under the influence with a child in the car. In such case, the prosecution may charge you with both violations of penal statutes on driving under the influence as well as child endangerment.

Speak with a DUI attorney today by calling (626) 827-7222!

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